Attorney General Jeff Sessions has brought sweeping change to the Department of Justice, but the Hill reports he will face hurdles as he tries to recycle policies that are out of step with contemporary reforms. In just two months, Sessions has moved quickly to overhaul the policies and priorities set by the Obama administration. He has rolled back protections for transgender students and rescinded plans to phase out the federal government’s use of private prisons. He called for a review of police consent decrees and shut down a panel of science and legal scholars that was scrutinizing questionable forensic techniques.
Sessions has made immigration enforcement a top priority, ordered a focus on violent crime by federal prosecutors across the country, and appointed Steven Cook, an outspoken opponent of criminal justice reform, as assistant deputy attorney general. Alex Whiting of Harvard Law School said it appears Sessions is resurrecting the tough-on-crime policies last seen during the George W. Bush administration. “I think in the criminal justice world there seemed to be a consensus between the right and left that those policies, those rigid policies of the war on drugs and trying to get the highest sentence all the time, had failed,” Whiting said. “I don’t know if he is really going to be able to persuade the department to follow his lead on this.”